This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future.”
– Ronald Reagan
Week of August 8-14, 2016
1844 – Brigham Young is chosen as the Mormon Church leader following the death of Joseph Smith.
1854 – Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges.
1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis competition, named after Dwight Filley Davis, begins at Longwood Cricket Club in Massachusetts and is won by the United States two days later.
1911 – Public Law 62-5 sets the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives at 435. The law goes into effect in 1913.
1918 – Alvin York is given command of troops when six U.S. soldiers are surrounded by Germans in France during WWI. Sgt. York shoots 20 Germans and captures 132 more. York is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and eight other American and European awards. York died in 1964 at age 76.
1925 – The Ku Klux Klan has their first national march (200,000 people) in Washington, D.C.
1945 – President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter.
1960 – The song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” hits #1 on the music charts. Watch Bobby Hyland perform it on Dick Clark’s show:
1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew says the reports that he took kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland are “damned lies” and he vows not to resign. Agnew resigns on October 10th.
1974 – President Richard M. Nixon announces he will resign his office 12 PM on August 9th as a result of the Watergate scandal.
1988 – Secretary of State George Shultz narrowly escapes assassin attempt in Bolivia when a bomb explodes near his motorcade.
1992 – The “Dream Team” clinches the gold medal in basketball at the Barcelona Summer Olympics when the U.S. team beats Croatia 117-85. The Dream Team is elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Watch a video of the 10 top U.S. plays at the Olympics:
2000 – The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. It is the first submarine to sink a ship during wartime. The sinking of the Federal warship USS Housatonic also results in the sinking of the Hunley due to its close proximity to the explosion. The Housatonic remains on the ocean floor.
1790 – The three-masted sailing ship Columbia under the command of Captain Robert Gray returns to Boston after a 3-year journey, becoming the first ship to carry the U. S. flag around the world.
1848 – Martin Van Buren is nominated for president in his third attempt to regain the White House. President Van Buren (1836-1840) loses re-election to William Henry Harrison in 1840, is passed over for the nomination in 1844, and tries unsuccessfully for the presidency again in 1848 as a member of the Free Soil Party. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor wins the 1848 election.
1910 – Alva Fisher patents the electric washing machine.
1930 – Betty Boop debuts in Max Fleischer’s animated cartoon “Dizzy Dishes.” Watch the animated film:
1936 – Jesse Owens wins his 4th gold medal at the Berlin Summer Olympics. President Roosevelt never invites Owens to the White House because FDR is running for re-election.
1944 – The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council create “Smokey the Bear” to curb forest fires and conserve resources. A bear cub is rescued during a 1950 New Mexico fire, sent to the National Zoo in Washington, and becomes the living symbol of Smokey the Bear. Smokey died in 1976 and is buried in New Mexico.
1945 – The U.S. drops its second atomic bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki, Japan. Japan signs the surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd.
1969 – The Manson family commits the Tate-LaBianca murders. Charles Manson’s followers murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in her home and then Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the next day. Manson and four of his followers are convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The sentences are commuted to life in prison by the California Supreme Court’s 1972 ruling in People vs. Anderson. Manson is now 81 years old.
1972 – Rockwell receives the NASA contract to construct the Space Shuttles.
1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes the president. Nixon selected Senator Gerald Ford as Vice President in 1973 after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. Ford is the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without having been elected to either office. Watch Nixon’s announcement from the White House:
1975 – The New Orleans Superdome is officially opened when the Saints play the Houston Oilers in an exhibition football game. The Superdome costs $163 million to build.
1985 – Arthur J. Walker, a retired Navy officer, is found guilty of seven counts of spying for the Soviet Union.
1988 – The Edmonton Oilers trade ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings for $15 million and three future draft picks.
2004 – Trump Hotel and Casion Resorts announce plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
1831 – Former slave Nat Turner leads a violent slave insurrection, killing 55 to 65 whites. Turner is captured two months later. He is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Turner is hanged on November 11th. Between 100 and 200 slaves (guilty and innocent) are executed and lynched after the revolt.
1846 – Congress signs a charter establishing the Smithsonian Institution with a $500,000 donation from English scientist James Smithson. Childless, Smithson’s will specifies that if his nephew dies without an heir that his fortune should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson dies in 1829 and his nephew dies without an heir in 1935.
1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis match results in the United States beating the British Isles 3-0 in Boston. The Davis Cup is now the world’s largest annual international team sport competition (130 nations enter in 2013).
1927 – Mount Rushmore was formally dedicated. The individual faces of the presidents are dedicated later.
1944 – Boston Brave pitcher Red Barrett sets a record by throwing only 58 pitches to the minimum 27 batters to beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-0.
1945 – The day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki the Japanese government announces Japan will surrender. The only condition is that the status of Emperor Hirohito will remain unchanged.
1948 – Allen Funt’s Candid Camera TV show debuts on ABC. Allen Funt hosts or co-hosts almost every TV version of the show until his stroke in 1993 from which he never recovers. His son Peter Funt hosts and produces the show until 2004. Watch one of the earliest, and funniest, practical jokes:
1966 – NASA launches Lunar Orbiter 1, the first spacecraft to orbit the moon.
1975 – David Frost purchases exclusive rights to interview former President Richard Nixon.
1977 – “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz is arrested for six shooting deaths in New York. Berkowitz shoots a total of 13 people. He is arrested 11 days after his last murder when a witness notices the killer’s car has a parking ticket on the windshield. Berkowitz is sentenced to 25 years-to-life for each murder and is denied parole in May 2014 for the 7th time. He is now 63 years old.
1985 – Michael Jackson buys ATV Music (including every Beatles song) for $47 million.
1990 – NASA’s Magellan spacecraft arrives at Venus and maps 98 percent of the planet’s surface. It is launched in May 1989.
1994 – President Clinton claims presidential immunity when he asks a federal judge to dismiss, at least for the time being, a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Corbin Jones.
2001 – The U.S. and U.K. reject a proposal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to permit the Iraqi government to use $1 billion per year to fund infrastructure improvements and to increase oil production capacity.
2006 – Scotland Yard disrupts a major terrorist plot to destroy aircraft travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States. All toiletries over 3 ounces are banned from commercial airplanes.
1860 – The first successful silver mill in the U.S. begins operating in Virginia City, Nevada.
1866 – The world’s first roller skating rink opens in Newport, Rhode Island.
1877 – American astronomer Asaph Hall discovers the two moons of Mars and names them Phobos and Deimos.
1919 – The Green Bay Packers football team is founded by George Calhoun and Curly Lambeau and is named after its sponsor, the Indian Packing Company. The Packers win the first Super Bowl on January 15, 1967, in Los Angeles against the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
1924 – Presidential candidates Calvin Coolidge and John Davis make the first campaign film for public viewing.
1934 – The first federal prisoners arrive at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay in California. Sixty special FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, and railway security officials escort the 137 handcuffed prisoners to The Rock. Watch a brief history of Alcatraz:
1951 – The Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers play the first baseball game telecast in color. The Braves beat the Dodgers 8-1.
1966 – The last Beatles concert tour in the U.S. begins.
1970 – Jim Bunning becomes only the second pitcher (Cy Young is the first) to win 100 baseball games in both leagues.
1984 – During a radio voice test President Reagan joked he “signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes.” Listen to the radio bite:
1984 – Carl Lewis duplicates Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat by winning four Olympic track gold medals during the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California.
1992 – The Mall of America opens in Bloomington, Minnesota, as the largest shopping mall in the U.S.
1994 – A U.S. federal jury awards $286.8 million to about 10,000 commercial fishermen for losses as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
1998 – British Petroleum (BP) becomes No. 3 among oil companies with the $49 billion purchase of Amoco. It is the largest foreign takeover of a U.S. company to date.
2002 – US Airways announces that it has filed for bankruptcy.
1620 – The ships Mayflower and Speedwell arrive in Dartmouth, England, to repair leaks in the Speedwell. On September 6th the Mayflower heads for America alone when the Speedwell’s leaks cannot be fixed. The Mayflower voyage takes 66 days.
1851 – The U.S. schooner America beats the British yacht Aurora in the first America’s Cup race.
1851 – Isaac Singer patents the sewing machine.
1898 – Secretary of State William Day signs the Peace Protocol (by the authority of President McKinley) ending the Spanish-American War.
1908 – Ford builds the first Model T automobile in Detroit, Michigan. It sells for $825.
1927 – The movie “Wings” opens starring Clara Bow. It is the only silent film to win an Oscar for best picture. It wins the Oscar at the first Academy Awards in 1929. Watch the movie trailer with voice over:
1935 – Babe Ruth plays his final baseball game at Fenway Park with 41,766 fans in attendance.
1937 – Red Skelton appears on the radio for the first time on the “Rudy Vallee Show” on NBC. Skelton died in 1997 at age 84.
1953 – Ann Davison arrives in Miami, Florida, becoming the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic.
1955 – President Eisenhower raises the minimum wage from 75 cents to $1 an hour.
1970 – St. Louis Cardinal’s outfielder Curt Flood loses his antitrust lawsuit against baseball following a Supreme Court decision. He claims baseball effectively binds a player and his contract to a team for life. In December 1975 baseball players finally win the right to free agency.
1972 – The last American combat ground troops leave Vietnam.
1977 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise makes the first atmospheric flight.
1981 – IBM unveils its first PC (personal computer). It sells for $1,565.
1993 – Pope John Paul II begins a 4-day visit of the U.S. culminating in World Youth Day in Denver.
1993 – President Clinton lifts the ban on rehiring air traffic controllers who had been fired for going on strike in 1981.
1994 – Stephen G. Breyer is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice.
2013 – Mob boss Whitey Bulger is found guilty of federal racketeering, extortion, conspiracy, and 11 murders. He is sentenced to two life terms plus 5 years. Bulger is now 86 years old.
2013 – According to a U.S. Treasury report only 65 percent of the nearly $80 billion that President Obama unilaterally diverted from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out the auto industry has been recovered. Congress excluded the auto industry from the TARP bill in 2008.
2014 – Riots break out in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown by a policeman.
1876 – The Reciprocity Treaty (free trade agreement) between the U.S. and Hawaii is ratified.
1889 – William Gray patents the coin-operated telephone. He installs the first phone at a bank in Hartford, Connecticut, as a post-pay phone. The first pre-pay phone is installed in Chicago in 1898. By 1902 there are 81,000 pay telephones in use in the U.S.
1919 – The racehorse Man o’ War suffers the only defeat of his career by the ironically named horse Upset at Saratoga, New York. Man o’ War retires to stud in 1920 and foals many champions, including the 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
1939 – Sabotage is suspected in the crash of the passenger train “City of San Francisco” which falls into the Humboldt River in Elko, Nevada, killing 24.
1953 – General Omar Bradley becomes the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
1963 – Federal custom agents confiscate 21 gold coins from the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas. The 1933 Gold Act prohibits the “hoarding” of gold.
1981 – The last broadcast of the “Waltons” airs on CBS-TV. The show premieres in 1971. Watch the final goodnight of the final episode:
1993 – The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals rules (subsequent to Armstrong vs. The Executive Office following a Freedom of Information Act request) that the White House, specifically, and government agencies, in general, must preserve all their e-mail messages under the Federal Records Act (FRA) of 1950 since they are deemed official records.
1997 – The first episode of South Park airs on TV. Watch part of the first edisode:
2015 – The U.S. government formally returns to France Pablo Picasso’s painting La Coiffeuse, which was stolen from Paris’ National Museum of Modern Art in 2001.
1873 – Charles Hallock publishes his first magazine called “Forest and Stream.” It is renamed “Field & Stream” in 1930.
1911 – Senate leaders begin rotating the office of President pro tempore of the Senate among leading candidates to fill the vacancy left by the death William P. Frye.
1935 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law creating unemployment insurance and pension plans for the elderly.
1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky, in the last public execution in the U.S. Bethea is convicted of rape and murder based on his fingerprints, a new identification technique.
1941 – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issue the joint declaration that later becomes known as the Atlantic Charter. Although not a treaty, it is an affirmation “of certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.” Watch a Discovery video with actual footage:
1945 – In what is called V-J Day, Japan surrenders unconditionally to end World War II.
1965 – The Beatles make their fourth and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
1966 – The first U.S. lunar spacecraft begins orbiting the Moon. It crashes on the far side of the moon on October 29th after 577 moon orbits.
1974 – Congress authorizes U.S. citizens to own gold again. The Gold Reserve Act of January 1934 outlawed most private possession of gold.
1987 – Mark McGwire sets the record for major league home runs by a rookie when he connects for his 49th home run of the season. Watch McGwire hit a homerun in 1998 that broke Roger Maris’ record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN6FoxNIqcQ
1997 – The Oklahoma Court of Appeals upholds the death sentence of Timothy McVeigh for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that kills 168 people. McVeigh dies by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.
2015 – Patrick Hardison receives the most extensive full face transplant surgery ever performed. The surgery is done by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez at New York University Langone Medical Center. Hardison is a volunteer firefighter who is severely burned in a 2001 fire. Watch a graphic documentary by the Medical Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rFk8sSJhXk